April
2008
DRIVING
 
Vol. 4 No.3  
 

Useful luxury

Subaru Tribeca is the upmarket SUV many drivers can afford, finds Adrian Ion
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The new 2008 edition of the Tribeca has dropped the strange-looking front end that attracted criticism from more conservative aficionados of sports utility vehicles. The Japanese have also lost part of its name, the B9, which sat in front of Tribeca. Instead it keeps the moniker which derives from the posh New York neighbourhood frequented by movie stars. Urbane American celebrity must be the association that the Japanese brand demands for its giant vehicle.
The biggest Subaru ever competes with some of its oriental cousins such as the Nissan Murano or the Lexus RX, but also moves into the territory occupied by the Mercedes ML and BMW X5, although the Subaru is seriously cheaper than both of these.
Subaru has placed its hopes in the Tribeca to help the brand gain perception outside of its Imprezza model and to appeal to a different type of customer, who still wants a boxer engine in their car but has maybe grown up enough to trade in their sports WRX.
To help in the battle with the more established models of the competition, the Tribeca is well-equipped with everything a driver would wish for as standard and successfully melds multiple needs and seating capabilities. Five or seven seats are an option with standard rear DVD entertainment for the seven seats model to keep the kids and pets happy.
The interior is very distinctive compared to other manufacturer’s models and the Japanese have done an excellent job in creating a dash that looks futuristic. The multitude of dials and buttons might not be candy to the eyes of consumers buying into the minimalism trend, but it creates a pretty effective atmosphere during the night when the dash lights up in red. The interior features a leather-covered steering wheel and gear shift as well as cruise control and DVD navigation system with a seven-inch touch screen. The front screen is also used for the rear end camera, which activates automatically when the car is put in reverse.

Size adjustment

The driver needs time to accommodate to the sheer magnitude of the car, and the cab forward design gives a sensation of plenty of room, similar to a minivan. The huge rear-view mirrors become useful tools when parking the car, but park distance control sensors would be a welcome addition in the visibility sector.
The engine is a 3.6 litre boxer with 258 Hp that gives the car a proper boost when needed. The Sportshift transmission also helps. The automated transmission has two ways of functioning in the drive mode. When the simple drive mode is selected, the gears are shifted as in every normal car, at around 3,000 rpm. When the Sport Drive mode is selected, the gears are shifted at over 6,000 rpm. The acceleration feels impressive and we have to give credit to Subaru for building extraordinary engines. Less impressive is the gas consumption which is around 17 litres in city traffic. Subaru has just released a two-litre diesel engine to equip the smaller models and a bigger version is expected in the future that might suit the Tribeca.
The road handling of the vehicle is impressive, the car’s response is predictable and the Tribeca corners well. The steering is light, but one can actually drive this vehicle with some verve, especially if the sports mode is selected. Overall this vehicle cannot be mistaken for a sports car, neither will people believe it looks like a truck, which is true of many other SUVs.
Comparing the Tribeca with models in its class from Audi, BMW and Mercedes it comes down to what the driver gets for his or her cash. In terms of value for money and extra options that a driver needs for the models mentioned above, if he or she chooses the Tribeca, this could save at least 10,000 Euro. As a model that is neither all about luxury nor purely about utility, Subaru has got the maths just right. The addition of a diesel in the engine department will definitely bring in some more clients who are more careful with their pocket money.
“As a model that is neither all about luxury nor purely about utility, Subaru has got the maths just right”

Subaru Tribeca: vital statistic
■ Power:
256 HP 3.6 liter boxer engine flat-6
■ Transmission:
five-speed automatic Sportshift
■ Traction:
four-wheel Symmetrical Drive, ABS and ESP standard
■ Consumption:
16.2 litres/100 km in urban traffic and nine litres on the motorway
■ Price:
49,623 Euro including VAT for the five-seat version or 51,408 Euro +VAT for the seven-seat version


 
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